E17 Art Trail 2014 + Home for Now

Home for Now & E17 Art Trail as seen on Stylist's Own

I’ve waxed lyrical quite a few times over on Twitter about my love for my adopted little ‘hometown’, Walthamstow (a far-flung corner of north east London, yet so well connected – thank-you, Victoria Line – that you wouldn’t know it). Since moving here and not knowing a soul, I’ve been amazed at how many artists, designers, media folk and even interiors peeps like myself have also found themselves in this enclave, many of whom I now consider friends (but – shhh – the locals don’t like us talking about it, in case everyone else cottons on, though I fear if recent property price hikes are anything to go by, the cat may already be out of the bag). Anyway I digress: one of the many things I like about this area is the real sense of community – sadly hard to find in much of London Town – and the E17 Art Trail is a perfect case in point. Started in 2005 by two local artists, looking for a way to help motivate and strengthen the local artistic community, it has since turned into a behemoth, with over 3,500 artists and contributors involved in 2014’s three-week extravaganza. And this year, I’m going to be one of them!

Home for Now by Joanna Thornhill Launch Party Pic

Kiln Arts & Sonia Hunt at the E17 Art Trail as seen on Stylist's Own blog

I’ll be ‘popping up’ at the home of local ceramicist Steven Smith, aka Kiln Arts, who is kindly hosting both myself and fellow-local photographer Sonia Hunt within his maisonette (or hopefully in his stunning garden, weather permitting). I’ll be setting up a version of my ‘living book wall’ as featured at last month’s book launch (seen in the above pic) and selling signed copies of Home for Now at a special discounted rate of £15, as well as running a competition to win a goodie bag full of lovely loot (the same bounty as seen in this previous post. Thanks to all who entered that one and if you missed out, here’s your chance for another crack at the whip!) And of course, Steven and Sonia will be offering their own ceramic pieces and photography prints for sale, too, along with fending off my attempts at swapsies, no doubt. I have sort of promised to make flapjacks, but I’m not sure I’ve got time and, given that I once managed to nearly blow up a microwave whilst attempting to cook a jacket potato, I’ll let you judge whether that will be a good or bad thing. But beverages and snacks will be available, one way or another.

Helpfully, the guide this year (pick one up at one of the participating venues or view the PDF here) has been broken down into distinct trails, focusing on the various corners of the ‘Stow (we’re at Venue number 85 (here’s our group page) within the Markhouse Trail), letting you map out your route for the day with ease and allowing you to see at a glance what’s in your vicinity. But to break it all down, here’s the key info you need:

Dates/times: Sat 31st May/Sun 1st June and Sat 7th/Sun 8th June; 11am-6pm each day (note: I *should* be there the whole time but my stall will be manned even if I’m not, though if you did specifically want to see me in person then do tweet me or drop me an email just to make sure)

Venue: 112 Theydon Street, London E17 8EL

How to get there: TUBE: Blackhorse Road or Walthamstow Central (Victoria line) then about a 20-ish minute walk; TRAIN: St James Street or Walthamstow Central (15 minute walk from the former/20ish minutes the latter); BUS: 158 (from Blackhorse Road/St James Street), 58/48 (from Walthamstow Central) or 48/55/56 (from Hackney/Clapton way); CAR: free on-street parking (plenty of room for bikes in the garden, too).

Yes, I know, it’s possibly a little out of the way, but there’s more than enough to see to make a little daytrip out of it, and for the over-30’s, you can also regale your friends and family afterwards with tales of how you visited the hometown of everyone’s favourite 90’s boyband to boot. Aside from that, and visiting the other, um, 3,499 places involved in the Art Trail, might I recommend the following to while away the hours in East 17:

Five things to see and do in Walthamstow as seen on Stylist's Own blog

1. A visit to neon artist Chris Bracey’s masterpiece of a studio-cum-workshop-cum-neon-paradise, God’s Own Junkyard (his work has appeared in Hollywood movies and as a backdrop for dishy Idris Elba in the BBC’s Luther, don’tchaknow), followed by a locally brewed Jack of Clubs in the Wildcard Brewery yard outside.

2. Stroll round the picturesque conservation area that is Walthamstow Village, home to the 15th Century timber Ancient House and all manner of other character cottages which are quite the opposite of what one would expect to find in urban Zone Three; bijou little shops/pubs/cafes on Orford Road; a cat-friendly pub plus the world’s poshest Spar (stockists of infamous local delicacy, Bacon Jam. Get some. Seriously. In fact, get two and drop the other one round to mine, please, I’ve run out.)

3. Pop into the birthplace of none other than William Morris on Forest Road, recently renovated and now an award-winning (free) gallery dedicated to his work. If it’s open, the massive Salvation Army charity shop opposite is a must for vintage fiends.

4. Estate agents enjoy bragging about Walthamstow High Street being home to the longest street market in Britain (or Europe, depending on how hungry they are for your commission) – rumour has it, a certain Lord Sugar even learnt his trade here. Whilst on face value it’s not exactly the most inspiring of streets, there are lots of little gems tucked away along its one-mile route, such as the beautiful Grade II listed Manze’s pie ‘n’ mash shop, amazing (and amazingly cheap) naan bread from the Fresh Nan Bakery and a multitude of fab Indian fabric shops (great for cheap, colourful trimmings for the craft box).

5. Fancy a coffee? Get your caffeine fix from industrial-chic Cafe 56 (a handy ten-minute walk from my pop-up event venue), Scandi new kids Bygga Bo, where you can buy both Scandi home accessories and an amazing cinnamon bun in one hit, or local stalwarts (and the friendliest cafe owners you’ll ever meet) Arts & Crusts. Something stronger? Recently refurbished Victorian boozers The Bell or The Chequers should see you right, or for something a bit more classic, check out the Rose & Crown theatre pub, which often hosts comedy nights – look carefully and you can see big names for cheaps trying out new material, includind Stuart Lee and Alan Carr.

I look forward to seeing you Stow-side!

{Images: 1. Time Out, 2. my Instagram feed, 3.  Friends of the William Morris Gallery (and yes, that is Laurence Llewelyn Bowen lurking on the far left at the grand opening), 4. The Guardian, 5. my Instagram feed again, showing the interior of Cafe 56}


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About Joanna Thornhill

Freelance Interior Stylist, Author, Writer and Crafter working for a range of magazine titles and commercial clients. Author of Home for Now (CICO Books 2014)

3 responses to “E17 Art Trail 2014 + Home for Now”

  1. estherase says :

    As a ‘local’ (born on Forest Road), I’m slightly insulted by the implication that we are a separate subset displeased by the exciting things going on in the ‘stow! I’m even in the Art Trail myself (number 30), and am certainly hoping to get over to see Steve.

    • Stylist's Own (by Joanna Thornhill) says :

      Oh please don’t feel insulted – all written with tongue firmly in cheek! Walthamstow is the friendliest place in London I’ve lived (as long as you don’t mention Coldplay in front of Stella) and I’m hoping to meet lots more locals (old and new) at the trail! Do say hi if you pop down to 85!

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